First, I found out that a local bar, Kraftwork, was getting a keg of Russian River’s Pliny the Elder. I couldn’t go that night to try it out but they still had it the next morning so I went on over. Overall impression: this beer is good. I had major expectations for this one and was a little worried because I’ve previously been let down by beers that I thought would be awesome. But Pliny the Elder is what an IPA is meant to be. Very hoppy, VERY hoppy. But not bitter at all. It’s smooth, easy to drink, but be careful because it packs a punch with 8.0% ABV. This beer is much sought after (though not as much as its relative Pliny the Younger) and I can see why. My lovely fiancé proclaimed it the best beer she’s ever had (I assume she meant other than Five Mile’s brews) and she had been thinking that she was sick of the bitter hopfest that IPAs have become. I think this one helped her get a taste for well-balanced hop flavor and to distinguish between hoppy and bitter. Tons of reviews have been written about it so I won’t go into it too much (see Beer Advocate’s review here), except to say that if you happen to see it on tap somewhere, order one and count yourself lucky.
Just a few days later, my future brother-in-law surprised me with a bottle of Three Floyd’s Dreadnaught IPA. He had been in the area of Munster, Indiana for business and was able to visit the brewery (lucky guy!) and was kind enough to send a bottle of Dreadnaught my way. Now I should put a disclaimer here. I was coming off my sublime experience with Pliny the Elder so my expectations may have been skewed. Maybe I was hoping for another Pliny. Dreadnaught had good hop flavor, lots of citrus, but veered too far into bitter. It’s a solid IPA but not as balanced as I had hoped. Again, check Beer Advocate for other reviews and definitely give it a try if you can get it. I’d say however, it doesn’t really live up to its hype and is on par with other IPAs that I can get more easily.
All in all, a pretty successful week of beer tasting for me. I’m looking forward to trying more of those “wish list” beers. And if you have a favorite you think I should try (although I have to warn you, I’ve already tried a lot of beers), let me know! I’ll write up my experience and post it here!